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The COVID-19 pandemic experiences of parents caring for children with oesophageal atresia/tracheo-oesophageal fistula

Stewart, A; Smith, C; Eaton, S; De Coppi, P; Wray, J; (2021) The COVID-19 pandemic experiences of parents caring for children with oesophageal atresia/tracheo-oesophageal fistula. BMJ Paediatrics Open , 5 (1) , Article e001077. 10.1136/bmjpo-2021-001077. Green open access

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Abstract

Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global health crisis of unparalleled magnitude. The direct risk to the health of children is low. However, disease-containment measures have society-wide impacts. This study explored the pandemic experiences of parents of children with oesophageal atresia/tracheo-oesophageal fistula (OA/TOF) in the UK. Design: A phenomenological approach underpinned use of an asynchronous online forum method, in collaboration with a patient support group. Data were evaluated using thematic analysis. Results: The online forum ran between 7 November and 18 December 2020 with 109 participants. Pandemic experiences were divided into themes relating to healthcare and disease containment. Participants described positive experiences with remote healthcare but identified limitations. Delays and cancellations led to escalation of care to an emergency level, slower developmental progress and feelings of being abandoned by services. Inpatient care was perceived as safe but caring alone was emotionally and practically challenging. Disease containment themes revealed anxiety regarding health risks, ‘collateral’ damage to well-being because of isolation, and an impact on finances and employment. Parents described a transition from worry about direct health risks to concern about the impact of isolation on socialisation and development. A process of risk–benefit analysis led some to transition to a more ‘normal life’, while others continued to isolate. Benefits to their child’s health from isolation were reported. Conclusions: Parents’ experiences of caring for a child with OA/TOF during the pandemic were varied. Rapid adoption of telehealth has demonstrated the enormous potential of remote healthcare delivery but requires refinement to meet the needs of the individual. Future pandemic planning should aim to retain community healthcare services to avoid escalation of care to an emergency, manage chronic and developmental concerns, and support parental well-being. Accurate and consistent disease-specific information is highly valued by parents. Third sector organisations are ideally positioned to support this. Data availability statement: No data are available. Although data have been anonymised, we have not made data available to protect the identity of those involved in the research, due to the detail provided by participants.

Type: Article
Title: The COVID-19 pandemic experiences of parents caring for children with oesophageal atresia/tracheo-oesophageal fistula
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjpo-2021-001077
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjpo-2021-001077
Language: English
Additional information: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Developmental Biology and Cancer Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127489
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